Head & Neck Cancers

NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital

Head & Neck Cancers


Head & neck cancer surgery

If you've been diagnosed with a cancer of the head and neck region, you may be concerned about how your treatment may affect the way you look. We are, too, which is why our surgeons at the Weill Cornell Medicine Meyer Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital use minimally invasive surgical techniques whenever we can. Studies have shown that patients who receive minimally invasive surgery recover faster, have less pain, and recover function more quickly than patients who receive conventional surgery

Operating through the mouth and nose

Many head and neck tumors, including cancers of the mouth and throat, can be removed using approaches that do not require any incisions in the face or neck. Our surgeons often remove tumors endoscopically, through a scope inserted through your nose or mouth. We also perform robotic surgery through the mouth — an approach called "transoral robotic surgery." These approaches allow your surgeon to operate without making incisions in your skin, reducing the length of your hospital stay and speeding your recovery.

Leadership in endoscopic sinus and skull base surgery

Our head and neck surgeons collaborate with colleagues in neurosurgery to remove a variety of skull base tumors and repair complicated skull base defects. The most common skull base tumors are brain tumors, pituitary tumors, acoustic neuromas, and meningiomas. Because skull base tumors reside near critical nerves and blood vessels in the brain, eyes, head, neck, and spinal cord, treating them can be challenging and requires the expertise of experienced surgeons.

Surgeons at the Meyer Cancer Center often remove skull base tumors endoscopically, through the nose, without cutting the face or skull. They may also access the brain or skull base through a small incision in the eyebrow or from behind the ear. We use state-of-the-art operating room equipment with nerve monitoring, computerized navigation systems, and microscopes to ensure that the surgery can be done safely.

Advanced reconstructive and revision surgery

If you need more extensive surgery, our head and neck surgeons work closely with our plastic and reconstructive surgeons to preserve your appearance and function. We also have special expertise in "revision surgery" for previously treated patients whose cancer returns. Advanced recurrent cancers of the head and neck require prompt evaluation and treatment. Removal of these tumors often requires cutting-edge techniques to restore appearance as well as vital functions such as eating and speech.

These advanced techniques may include microvascular reconstruction, where tissue is moved from another part of the body to recreate important structures such as the tongue or throat, and nerve reconstruction to restore function. Surgeons affiliated with our Center for Head and Neck Surgery have exceptional experience treating the most advanced cancers, with the goal of achieving a cure as well as the return to normal function.

Chemotherapy & immunotherapy

The head and neck surgery teams at the Meyer Cancer Center analyze the genetic profile of your tumor to identify the molecules associated with its growth. We then use this information to choose the most effective chemotherapy and immunotherapy medications for you, to give you the best chance of a cure.

Eliminating your cancer, reducing risk of recurrence

Many people with head and neck cancers receive chemotherapy to kill cancer cells that may remain in the body after surgery. This also reduces the chance of the cancer coming back. Sometimes we give treatment before surgery to reduce the size of the tumor, and often we give it after surgery.

Chemotherapy. You can receive chemotherapy in our modern and comfortable infusion suite, including targeted therapies designed to inhibit the proteins driving your cancer's growth.

Immunotherapy. Some patients with advanced head and neck cancer may receive treatment with pembrolizumab. This medication works by boosting the ability of your immune system to recognize and kill cancer cells. Clinical trials are also under way to evaluate other immunotherapies for head and neck cancer.

Radiation therapy

Our radiation oncologists at the Meyer Cancer Center typically use intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for head and neck cancers, which delivers highly targeted radiation of various intensities shaped to the contours of your tumor. We also use image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), which takes into account tumor movement and response to treatment over time. Some patients benefit from radiation given during surgery or directly applied to your tumor (brachytherapy). In all cases, the goal is the same: to kill tumor cells using the most effective doses of radiation while sparing as much healthy tissue and function as possible.

Same-day chemoradiation

Sometimes your chemotherapy and radiation therapy are given over the same period. If this is the case, you can often receive chemotherapy and radiation treatments on the same day, in the same hospital. We know how valuable your time is and want to make your treatment as convenient as possible.